Jekyll Island Sea Turtles
The Loggerhead, Green, Leatherback, Hawksbill, and Kemp’s Ridley: the sea turtles of Jekyll Island. Catching a view of one of these is the chance of a lifetime. Even seeing their tracks in the sand or their empty egg shells on the beach is an exciting glimpse into the lives of these wonderful creatures. Our Jekyll Sandpiper visitors can search for turtle nests, visit the Georgia Sea Turtle Center (GSTC), or view a sea turtle release. Sea turtle exploration and conservation should go together, so always remember these are protected animals on our island.
The Loggerhead measures almost three feet long when fully grown and weighs from 250 to 400 pounds. You can find them in the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Oceans, as well as the Mediterranean Sea. Loggerheads spend most of their lives in saltwater habitats. Since they feed largely on shellfish, they patrol the coastal waterways bottoms in search of their prey. Then they use their powerful jaw muscles to crunch up those crabs, clams, horseshoe crabs, and other hard-shelled goodies.
Loggerheads frequently nest on Jekyll’s shores. The Sea Turtle Patrol marks and counts each nest. Most often visitors might see the tracks a female has made as she climbs out of the sea to dig a hole and lay her eggs. but perhaps you’ll catch a glimpse of this turtle on a GSTC Turtle Patrol. Later in the season, you can see the tracks of the baby sea turtles as they march their way to the sea.
Sea Turtle Releases
There are always loggerheads in residence at the Georgia Sea Turtle Center, a working animal hospital. They come for recovery from boat strikes or for removal of marine junk (barnacles and other small creatures) from their shells. Once they are healthy, the Turtle Center releases them back into the ocean. Sea turtle releases from the Great Dunes Beach are a wonderful opportunity to see a sea turtle as it returns to its natural habitat.
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